2010-05-28

The Vengeance Of Rome

I started off with The Vengeance Of Rome, the last of the Pyat tetralogy. I guessed the twist at the end, but it was heavily signposted. Many of the characters lead glamorous lifestyles, taking lots of cocaine. It made me want to be like them and snort cocaine. I won't though.

There's a lot of irony in the book. You have to be cleverer than I am to pick it all up. I don't yet have a settled view of the protagonist. He was intelligent, but gullible and naive and given to flights of fancy. People say you shouldn't let life destroy your dreams, but that's rubbish, and this book proves it.

2010-05-18

New Scientist: Why democracy is always unfair

Toby at work sent me an interesting New Scientist article on voting systems.

Entitled 'Electoral dysfunction: Why democracy is always unfair', it argues that due to Arrow's Impossibility Theorem, you can never have a perfect voting system. The problem with this argument is that Arrow's Theorem only applies to voting systems where the candidates are put into an ordered list.

Under the range voting system, the voter gives each candidate points out of 10 (or some other number). All the points for each candidate are added up, and the candidate with the highest number of points is the winner. Since range voting doesn't require an ordered list, Arrow's Theorem doesn't apply.

2010-05-04

Gas Usage In Our House

Eco-bling

Went to a bracing Science Cafe given by Doug King. His view was that when it comes to environmentally friendly buildings, the 3 most important things are insulation, insulation and insulation. Anything else is mere eco-bling, there for its appearance rather than its utility. In particular it's almost never a good idea to put wind turbines on your house or any other building. They should be situated where it's windy, and where you can build very big ones, and pipe the electricity in.

Who I'm Voting For

Normally I read all the manifestos before voting, but this time I don't feel the need. Here's my summary of the parties:

Labour

Gordon Brown has made it clear that to get Britain's economy on its feet he'd continue wildly taxing and spending. I disagree with Brown, and agree with the Conservatives that we need to pay off our debt. I think this is such an important difference that I find myself unable to vote Labour.

Conservative

I think it's fantastic that they're against raising the National Insurance tax, I'm all for stopping taxing the poor. I also support their economic policy of cutting public spending, and reducing the debt as quickly as possible. I'm appalled by the Tory EU euro-phobia. Why can't they all be like Ken Clarke?

Liberal Democrats

I really like the Lib Dem policy of raising income tax threshold. I wish they'd go further and stop taxing the poor entirely. Electoral reform is a key aim of the Lib Dems, as it is for me. I'm in favour of range voting. I'm a euro-federalist, I want a united states of Europe as a step on the way to a world government!

What a shame that my exchange with Trevor Carbin revealed the liberal democrats to have some economically illiterate policies.

Summary

Labour: Fiscal incontinence. Conservatives: First past the post europhobes. Lib Dems: Better tax system, electoral reform, europhiles.

So on Thursday I'll be voting Liberal Democrat.